What Was it Like Living in Beckwith 1800s? Christina McEwen Muirhead





Buy the Beckwith Township Book here

The continuing saga of Christina McEwen Murihead….


The McEwen family had eight children and their log home was located deep in the Beckwith bush. When Spring came one of the memorable tasks was making maple syrup and maple sugar. The sap was collected daily, and let me tell you it took a lot of sap to make a gallon of syrup.

The sap was boiled down in a large iron squadron and it needed constant attention once the process got underway. The sap was added from time to time and the boiling continued until the right consistency was reached. The syrup was then poured off into suitable containers and when enough syrup was made then it was allowed to boil down to the sugar stage. It was then poured into tins the size of a loaf of bread and the sugar was hardened in an hour. Maple sugar kept well without wrapping so it was a much needed addition to the food supply and scraping of the sugar was a perfect topping to oatmeal porridge.

Making syrup and sugar took time and John McEwen would often be working in his shanty until night fell. The children were given their supper and told not to leave the house while Mother took food out to her husband keeping him company for a little while. She always took a burning stick with her when she went to bring dinner and said it was not uncommon to see the light of her burning stick reflected in the eyes of a wolf or even a pack of wolves.

To this present day it is difficult to raise sheep in parts of Beckwith township. In the Carleton Place Canadian on the 4th of January 1978 was a photo of Sonny Ferguson with a large wolf he had shot in Ramsay Township. Early settler Archibald Browning killed 82 wolves and 66 bears within a few years of his arrival in Lavant Township.

Making bread was a daily chore in the early settler days. Bread was far more than the staff of life for most settlers; it was life itself.  The bulk of a settler’s diet came from the consumption of bread, and by the 1850s, cast-iron stoves were becoming common, but pioneer families in remote areas — like those living in log cabins — still relied on an open hearth for all their baking. Bread and cakes could also be produced in bake kettles: sturdy Dutch ovens that were heated over a bed of coals.

These are just a few facts of life encountered by these courageous pioneer ancestors of ours and their struggles to exist and put down roots in a strange and often a hostile land.

Next–the move to Carleton Place






Settling in Beckwith–Clipping from an old Newspaper Article submitted by Leona Kidd
It was 1817 before the first settler set up a rude log shanty in Beckwith; his name was McNaughton. Then shortly afterward came Duncan McKercher. During the next three years the people of Scotland left the beloved heather-covered hills of their forebears in larger numbers and by 1821, at the behest and promise of the British government, which painted an alluring picture of the opportunities to be found in the land beyond the sea
and particularly of the attractive area comprising some 60,000 acres that had been set apart as a township and named after Sir Sidney Beckwith, a participant in the Napoleonic wars, a number of log cottages dotted the deep sylvan forest land.



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.




Christena McEwen– The Belle of Beckwith Part 1 -“The Woodcocks”

Killed by Zulus — Duncan and James Box

Was a Boldt Castle Boathouse Once in our Midst? See the Home of the Daphne!

He Hailed from Carleton Place– Harold Box– The Forgotten Scientist?

“Bossin’ Billy” McEwen Muirhead –Box family

McLaren Left it All to the McLeod Sisters–His Maids!


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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